The Sahara Force India Formula One Team head to the European Grand Prix this weekend at the new Baku street circuit in Azerbaijan following a great race in Canada last weekend.
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez both finished the race in the top ten with Hulkenberg coming home in eighth place while Perez finished the race in 10th. The Silverstone based outfit are now ten points clear of Toro Rosso in the race for fifth place in the championship and speaking ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Grand Prix in Baku, team principal and managing director of Force India Dr Vijay Mallya commented by saying:
The race in Canada was another strong indication of the good steps forward we have been taking since the start of the season. We showed good pace all weekend and delivered a solid performance in the race. This result increased our advantage over our direct rivals in the constructors’ championship and consolidates our fifth position. We now have a very quick turnaround to get ready for Baku – a big challenge, especially as it’s a new addition to the calendar.“Formula One’s arrival to a new country is always a positive sign: it shows there is a lot of appetite for our sport in new markets, which is not something we should underestimate. Some of the recent additions to the calendar, like Austin, Mexico and Russia, have proved to be very successful and there is no reason why Azerbaijan shouldn’t follow this trend. Hopefully, we will have a very interesting race to mark the start of this new venue’s history.“The track is a mix of long straights and sharp corners and reminds me of the layout in Singapore. It has the characteristics of a street circuit, but it looks like there are some wide corners that offer overtaking opportunities. The way our car and the tyres will behave is still an open question as nobody has any data about the track, but it’s a challenge to which we look forward. We come to Azerbaijan in high spirits and we look forward to another race where I’m sure we can be competitive.
Canada was a positive race as we were able to get the most out of a relatively straightforward weekend. To finish eighth in a race with such low attrition was a very good result and it showed we can fight for points everywhere. There is every reason to believe we can continue this run as we approach the summer break, and this obviously spurs us on.“I’m massively excited about the race in Baku, actually! New venues are cool; everything is fresh and everyone welcomes you. I have to admit I don’t know a lot about Azerbaijan, so it will be exciting to get to know this new place. I like to arrive in a place and get out to discover it: it’s one of the perks of our job, being able to see so much of the world.“Learning the track is crucial. I haven’t had a chance to try it in the simulator yet but I saw the video on YouTube earlier last week. In any case, it really is all about getting there, getting into the car and finding out about the track in those first few laps. The layout looks fast, especially for a street circuit: there is a massive straight, with just a few flat-out kinks, and some more twisty sections which will require a compromise in terms of set-up. I am a big fan of street circuits: they provide you with unique thrills, you drive close to the walls and it’s much more of a challenge to push your car and yourself to the limit.
The last weekend in Canada was not one of the easiest for me, so to come away from it with a point was a good result. I have now been in the points for the last four races on a range of very different tracks: this builds our confidence and makes us believe we can challenge for a place in the top ten in every race.“To prepare for Baku I have watched the onboard video that was circulated and the first impression is that the track is going to be really challenging. There are a lot of tight sections, as you would expect from a street track, but it looks more high-speed than Monaco: it’s the kind of circuit I enjoy driving and it should make for a good show.“I’ve never been to Azerbaijan, so it feels like an adventure. It’s always interesting to explore a new place for the first time and take in the sights of a new city. It’s great that our sport keeps going to new countries and reaching out to new fans. Once we get to the track, though, it’s business as usual. It’s important to learn the circuit quickly, so the track walk with the engineers and the first practice session are crucial. You need to get up to speed within a handful of laps.